It's interesting to see what happens to youth once life gets a hold of it, gives it a dose of reality, and sets it free again. There's a new genre popping up on Amazon and Goodreads that's exploring these types of stories. At the heels of the best sellers in New Adult, readers are beginning to incorporate what I like to call Mid-Adult into their reading mix. Mid-Adult contains characters that range from the ages of 35 to late 40s. Yes, some might call that middle age, but I prefer Mid-Adult. Middle age sounds more dated and older than these characters, which tend to be vibrant and worldly.
In this genre, the main characters have explored many paths, sometimes choosing the wrong one that has lead them to this stage. They have learned from their mistakes, but struggle to change their destiny. From the best-selling Gone Girl by Gillian Flynn to Geoducks Are For Lovers by Daisy Prescott, and the return of Bridget Jones in Mad About the Boy by Helen Fielding, we're seeing a growing interest not only by writers of this genre, but also among the readers of popular youth-focused books seeking books featuring characters of Generation X.
These characters have experienced heartache, regrets, and happiness. They have memories of lost loves and crazy antics from years past. They have lived interesting -- sometimes fulfilling, sometimes empty -- lives and find themselves in a new place on this journey of life. Things that once seemed monumental pale in comparison to what matters and these protagonists usually find themselves at a crossroad when we meet them.
I've seen readers say they feel they are cheating on their New Adult book loves with these more worn, wiser characters of Mid-Adult... and they like it. So does that mean that a character can be sexy after 25? Of course they can. In my opinion, I think readers are realizing life doesn't end when the characters turn 30. Writers in this genre have new stories to tell that are sprinkled with a past that enriches their character's journey. The Mid-Adult books I've read tend to lean more on the romantic side, such as Geoducks, which is described as Reality Bites meets The Big Chill. This story brings the past and life lessons full circle when presented with an opportunity the main character never expected to have. Reading reviews, rants, and raves about Gone Girl proves this genre can also cross boundaries, garnering a new audience by not necessarily giving us likeable characters, but crafting the intrigue to keep the reader invested in the story.
There is so much readily available to read that I think readers are gravitating toward this new genre because they relate to the flawed characters or to those who remind us of someone we know. Mid-Adult offers a comfort of life experience and missed chances, second chances, and new opportunities. But within this genre, we might not get everything wrapped up in a pretty bow at the end. When I'm reading a novel, I want an ending that fits the story and those particular characters. I'm good with an ending that's not perfect, but suitable for that story. Mid-Adult ventures into those more realistic ever-afters.
For writers, this is an opportunity to explore a period of life that is usually left for more literary genres, but can now be viewed under comedic, romantic, and even wicked spotlights. Two of the three books I mentioned are traditionally published, proving the publishing industry is embracing this genre as much as readers.